Stereo collodion negatives

The collodion wet plate process process was invented in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer (1813-1857). The process was based on the light sensitivity of silver halides (bromide and iodide) suspended in a collodion binder on a glass plate. It had significant advantages over the daguerreotype process. The process was more light sensitive, which meant that exposure times could be reduced to seconds. The wet plate process was a negative process and multiple positive prints could be made from a single negative plate. The prints were mainly made by using albumen on paper or glass.

Stereo collodion negative
13x18cm stereo collodion negative

Despite the benefits, the collodion process was a cumbersome process. It required that the photographic material remained more or less wet during the sensitising, exposing and development of the plate. This was not a problem in a studio, but when photographers were shooting outdoors they had to take their entire darkroom with them. Despite these disadvantages, the wet plate process became very popular and replaced the daguerreotype process in the 1850s.

Stereo collodion negative
The developed positive image

The collodion process was the major breakthrough for stereo photography. Companies like The London Stereoscopic Company and Alexis Gaudin et frère produced paper card and glass stereoviews on a large scale. Stereoscopy became a hype in the 1850s.


  1. Lavédrine, Betrand. Photographs of the Past – Process and Preservation, 2009, p.238
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